In the last post I said we were going to California… and we did, and it was fantastic. But before I give you the expatriate view on that alternate reality I want to tell you about a quick trip we made a couple of weeks ago:
Expatriate in the Indian Nation
“Desolate” is a word that popped into our heads more than once on the four-hour drive from home to Yuma, in the very southwest corner of Arizona. (View Map).
Even the names of some of the areas we passed through sound lonely: Gila Bend, Sentinel, Aztec, the Sand Tank Mountains, the Growler Mountains, the Granite Mountains. It wasn’t until we got to the town of Dateland that things sounded a little more convivial. Most of the ‘towns’ depicted on the map looked just like the vacant countryside around them. It is hard to imagine, and impossible to capture with a camera, the miles and miles of empty, dry space in the American southwest.
Our three-day adventure included three nations: the U.S., Mexico, and the Cocopah Nation, where we stayed in the hotel/casino. We’re not wild gamblers (well, I easily could be, given the opportunity and the necessary funds; the Captain? No.). We chose to stay at the Casino because it was new and clean and, most importantly, just a couple of miles from the home of our friends who had included us in their family reunion. The pluses of our hotel included a very nice pool and large rooms. The only negative was the pervasive smell of other people’s cigarettes which emanated from the nearby casino.
As casinos go, Cocopah is not large, but for that very reason it is not intimidating, and the staff were all extremely pleasant. The air, thick with smoke, sang with the cheerful electronic songs of the slot machines. I wanted to take some photos, but quickly learned (!) that photography inside a casino is NOT allowed.
When we checked in to the hotel we were given a welcome packet which included a bonus of $5.00 cash if we ‘cashed out’ of the casino with more than $15.00. So while the Captain sensibly sat by the pool and read a good book I took a $20 bill and put it in a slot machine, played four times at .25 each, and then ‘cashed out’ with $19, which, with the $5 bonus, gave me $24, a 20% profit.
Smart people would leave at this point, but not me. I took my free money back to the casino and played video poker for about half an hour, winning and losing. I prefer blackjack – it seems to me one has a better chance of winning, though I certainly don’t know. However, the only blackjack tables with empty seats cost $10 a hand, which is more than I want to gamble on three cards. Anyway, the video poker was highly entertaining, and after my play I had lost only $1.25, leaving me an aggregate profit of $2.75, enough to buy… not very much.
Staying at the Cocopah Casino in the Cocopah Nation didn’t really feel like being in a different country. The place was full of non-native Americans who were tossing away their money just as fast as they could. It seems a rather nice revenge after all the Indian Nations have suffered in the last three hundred years. In any event, we spent most of our visit with our friends, with whom great conversation and fabulous food is always a sure bet.